We All Deserve Respect

February 18, 2011
By , Los Angeles, CA
December 10, 2010
Dear Ms. Benton,

I want to tell you that I remember that miserable, rocky year we had with you in 2005-2006. It took place at 9th Street Elementary School in 4th grade in room 12. Your classroom seemed enormous to me and at first I was looking forward to your class, but soon I realized that it was going to be a terrible year.

Right when I first saw you, I thought, “She looks mean.” I stared at your pale skin, reddish-brown hair, and blue eyes as you talked. From the very first day, you started yelling at us and complaining about your past students. You looked old and miserable.

Well, looking back now that I’m older, I know that we should have treated you with respect because you are a human being and everyone deserves respect. However, we also should have gotten that same respect in return. I admit that I was apathetic; I didn’t really care about my grades or school. I only went to school to play and have fun with my friends. We acted stupidly and ridiculously.

I remember one day, when you took us to the Art room and we left it a total mess. We walked back to class with our sculptures and you started stacking up chairs to put our sculptures on the top shelf. That was the safest place for them. Unfortunately, when we were getting our backpacks, my friend, Chris, accidentally bumped into the chair you were standing on. You fell down to the floor and hit your hand on the wall. You were screaming. Instead of helping you, everyone laughed. No one was mature at that time and no one had any empathy.

I wondered, “Is she hurt really badly? What is she going to do to us?”

The whole class left and you were still on the ground. After that, things went from bad to worse. I remember another time when you were writing on the board and you were going to sit in your soft, dark navy-blue chair. It was the kind of chair with wheels and handles on the sides. Someone tied a string to it and pulled it out when you were about to sit down. You fell on the floor again and started blaming Chris, but we all knew it was really John who did it. You never really knew who to blame; you accused innocent people who weren’t really to blame and that made everyone hate you more.

There was another time when I was really mad at you. You were talking to us rudely and I was tired of listening to you. I walked by your desk and knocked your Starbucks coffee onto the ground. I did it on purpose but you never knew. The coffee went all over the place and stained the papers on your desk.

There was another day in November when you didn’t come to school for a whole week. It was dark, windy, and rainy outside and while you were gone, we did so much damage to your classroom. It was about 12:30 p.m. and we were having lunch break in class and we all decided to mess up your whole class. I was messing around so much that the substitute teacher couldn’t control me and my classmates. We were monsters that whole week.

It was awesome because there was no one in charge. We all wrecked your room. We all stepped all over your old black radio with the orange “9th Street School” sticker on top. When you returned, you were really mad.You loved that radio so much that you cried for it. You stayed strong like a solid rock.You almost slapped her in the face with the big ruler. Boom! The ruler hit the table.

Jenny screamed, “What the f---!?!”

I asked you after school, “Why were you close to hitting Jenny in the face?”

You didn’t reply at all.

I shouted at you again, “Why were you so close to slapping Jenny in the face!”

You answered, “I wasn’t, I meant to hit the table.”

Why did we do all of that stuff to you? Why did you treat us so horribly? We made you cry; you poured your eyes out. I wonder if you still teach. A few years after your class, I heard a rumor that you got so mad one day that you slapped a kid in the face and they fired you. I never found out if that was true or just made up.

After so many years have gone by, I feel guilty for how we treated you. Even though you were a mean teacher, you still didn’t deserve to be treated with cruelty. You never received any respect from us. I admit that I participated in being rude to you.

I personally, in my opinion, is that you weren’t a good teacher and you didn’t know how to inspire us or handle the class. On the other hand, you were still a person and we shouldn’t have treated you so badly. Growing up, I have thought about what we did and how we never gave you a chance to teach us anything.

At first, we all thought that it would be a good year, but it turned out to be one of the worst years for all of us. In the end, we all felt disrespected and acted disrespectfully. I’m fifteen years old now and I’ve changed. I no longer act rudely. When I get angry, I just keep it to myself. I want to be a good person and I never want to go down to that level where we all were that year with you. I think I am better than that. Even if someone treats me badly, I will be the better person.

As the wise Chinese philosopher, Confucius, once said, “Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts?” What he meant was, when we don’t show respect for each other, people turn into animals. We should all treat each other like human beings and control our anger. I’m glad I wrote this story so that other students, and even adults, can learn a lesson to be polite. Being rude will only make the situation worse and cause you to lose respect for yourself.

I’m sorry for my part in what happened, and I wish you good luck in life.



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